Self-Appreciation Saturdays

SAS: What Working Retail is Teaching Me About My Anxiety. (9/21/19)

self-appreciation saturday

Dear, guys – welcome back to Letters From Liz!

We are finally back to our regularly scheduled Saturday program after its summer hiatus; Self-Appreciation Saturday! SAS thanks the Overexposed Project for holding it down for the summer while it was taking a break after being the longest-running series on the blog. Now we’re back and better than ever to help you find some self-appreciation during the weekend!

So, with that being said, let’s talk.

So, as some of you might know, I finally landed a job about a month ago. It was exciting, it was something new, and I was so glad that I was now finally getting some work experience and all that jazz. I work at my old college’s bookstore as a bookseller, which in less fancy terms: an all-round expert on the books in our bookstore, cashier, order packer, stocker, etc. We pretty much do everything besides the special stuff that our managers do. Although I wrote a blog post talking about how my first week of work was like, the real challenge came once the semester started at the end of August.

The first two weeks of the semester is what we call RUSH; it’s the time of year that everyone comes to the bookstore to buy their textbooks for their classes. At first, it was extremely overwhelming. To have only a week of experience before the semester started was hard to adapt to, here and there I’ve made mistakes and had to learn from them. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t extremely anxious over those mistakes I made. I sold a wrong book to a customer, I opened all the rolls of coins not knowing that registers are counted at the end of the day, I left someone on hold for 25 minutes, and I walkie-talkied my manager probably 20 times the first day, pleading for help at the downstairs register. For a quick moment, I truly felt like quitting my job because it just seemed like it was doing more harm to my mental health than good. But with a little more helpful guidance from my therapist, some practice, and the support from my amazing manager and coworkers, I am finally getting into the swing of things, and I honestly love the routine I now have with this job.

Having a retail job has definitely taught me more than just how to work the damn register.

In fact, it’s taught me a lot about my anxiety and how to calm it down when something isn’t in my plan-book for the day.

You see, retail isn’t the ideal job for someone that has a social anxiety disorder; retail requires you to be social. You must greet customers, talk to them, ask them helpful questions, smile, help them with anything, and even if they are complete assholes to you, you must still be nice and helpful. Surprisingly, the whole customer interaction thing wasn’t the hardest part for me; in fact, it seemed to be the easiest part of the job, minus the phone call interactions that asked all the complex questions. Anyway, the hardest part of the job is the possible conflicts I had with some of the pissed-off, cranky, and unreasonable customers. The possible mistakes I made that could’ve resulted in those angry customers were the type of things that I had a hard time dealing with.

Explaining this to my therapist when she asked me what was the hardest part of my job surprised her. While she thought the social interactions with people would’ve been the hardest part, it was something that spoke about my self-esteem and confidence more than anything else. Because I’m new to this work environment and even work in general, I’m bound to make mistakes here and there. We all made minor mistakes, and we just have to learn from them, and yeah, practice does make perfect! Also, I’m learning that just because there is just an annoyed customer in my face (or on the phone), it doesn’t mean it’s my fault that the customer feels the way they do. I have to remind myself that there is only so much that I can do in certain situations, and as long as I’m doing that, my job is done nevertheless.

Confrontations are hard enough, and it’s even harder when your anxiety tells you that it’s your fault that these confrontations are happening.

At the end of the day, I am learning not to blame myself for everything that may be going wrong, and just acknowledging that is a huge step to managing your anxiety. Separating yourself and your emotions from these situations are what’s going to help run your life smoothly, in all honesty. Although it’s hard for me to separate the two, constantly reminding yourself that it’s not always directly about you and that people are going to be people regardless. As long as you’re doing what you know is right, nothing else really matters.

hand endnote



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s